I suppose it would be considered Chick Lit since it's a comedy about a woman's choices in the search for stability and true love. I know that a few excerpts posted here does not a book make, but I just want to share what I've been working on!*
*Because this is still unedited, please forgive any typos, grammatical mistakes, overwriting or generally bad sentences, description or dialogue. Summer 2013 is going to be one big ol' editing extravaganza on this thing.
I close my umbrella and shake out the excess drops from my hair, which has already, sadly, lost most of its curl. So much for that.
“Can I help you?” an unsure girl my age asks from behind the counter. She's holding a marker poised above a paper coffee cup, waiting for my order. In the seven months I've lived in the neighborhood I've never seen anyone other than Coffee Guy working this register; he's who I've come to expect. Handsome, tan Coffee Guy with whom I have a mild flirtation with a few mornings every week when I stop in for my regular on the way to work.
“I'll have...” I drift off, glancing at the menu above me, my mind uncharacteristically blank.
“She'll have a skim latte with a shot of vanilla, no whipped cream,” says a voice emerging from the stockroom behind her. New Girl nods furiously over her shoulder at Coffee Guy, who's carrying two gallons of creamer. He flashes me a smile worthy at least a small walk-on role on Grey's Anatomy and I melt. A little. But I'm in a hurry to get to work and have no time for our ritual flirtation today.
“And your name?” New Girl asks.
“Kitty,” I reply, digging into the depths of my Coach bag to find my Visa card. Yes, I pay for coffee with plastic, and I refuse to feel bad about it. Cash is so 1998.
“Kitty?” She scribbles something illegible on my cup. “Is that your real name?”
I smile, since I get this a lot. “No --”
“It's Katrina,” Coffee Guys says, cutting me off as he stocks the fridge beneath the counter with creamer. “Around here we call her Kitty.”
He stands up, all six feet of him. There's that smile again, just the faintest bit lopsided like it prefers the right side of his face a little more than the left. I smile back and hand my card to New Girl, feeling a touch guilty since I've been coming to the Broken Pencil for almost a year now and still don't know Coffee Guy's real name.
In my defense, it's been a busy past few months. Nick and I broke up, which I didn't see coming but in hindsight should have expected. Things had been heading south for a while. He moved out around the time I thought we'd be getting engaged since we'd been together all through college, and a three year relationship at this age feels like a lifetime. We stayed in Palo Alto after college graduation, thinking we'd eventually buy a house here, permanently get rid of our Ikea furniture and open a Pottery Barn account -- all those grown-up things that people on their way toward marriage do. But the minute we signed our lease it was obvious we weren't meant for each other. I was extroverted and social, true to the marketing degree I had earned. He was a quiet software engineer, whose kindness and good looks, in the end, weren't enough for me.
We left things on amicable terms but I still dread seeing him around Palo Alto, or worse, in the Broken Pencil every so often. I simply don't know what I'd say since everything between us had already been said when he packed up his final box. And really, how do you pretend you've had no history with a guy who's seen you cook naked in the kitchen, who's scrubbed your back in the shower, who's held you when you cried over spilling hot pink nail polish all over your new laptop? Suddenly the memories outweigh the pain in my now nearly numb toes.
There's no denying that Coffee Guy is cute. Okay, gorgeous. And all right, so maybe I've had more than one X-rated dream about him involving creamer and a few shots of vanilla syrup, but I'm entitled to saucy dreams now that I'm SBL -- Single and Barely Looking. Normally I'd be in hot pursuit, but Coffee Guy is and always will be, well . . . Coffee Guy. Worlds apart from anyone I'd ever be involved with. It was fun to fantasize but he worked at a coffee shop, for Christ's sake. It was like fantasizing about cute FedEx drivers or off-limits gardeners with bodies that belong on the covers of tacky romance novels.
“One skim vanilla latte,” Coffee Guy says, placing the paper cup on the counter in front of him. “Still pouring out there?” There it was again. That lopsided grin.
“Can't you tell by my hair?” I chirp back and pull a few tendrils forward for him to view from his barista post. “Looks like I'll be sporting the frizzed out look today,” I say.
“I hear it's all the rage right now,” he quips back without missing a beat as he wipes down the espresso machine with a hand towel.
“Oh really?” my eyebrows raise, delighted in our morning tete-a-tete though I really am in a huge hurry. But I can't resist. “Where did you read that?”
“It was somewhere in one of my copies of Vogue,” he teases, wrinkling his nose just a little. “Apparently it's the thing to do in Europe.”
If only this guy was more than just a barista.
“Well then I'm at the forefront of fashion,” I mock back and check my cell phone.
Crap. 8:36 am. Two missed calls, both from work.
“I've gotta run, late for work.”
Coffee Guy gives me a small salute as New Girl gazes at him longingly from her post by the cash register.
I grab my coffee and dash out the front door, popping open my polka-dot umbrella and booking it the four more blocks to the train station. Once I exit the Broken Pencil, any ideas about Coffee Guy quickly fade like they always do. All I can think of now are these blasted heels, Bets' bunions and my annual review today at work.
I wince in pain with each step up on the train and close my umbrella, finding a spot near a window by a handsome man in a business suit. I-banker, it looks like. Employer: Charles Schwab. Or at least it might be, since he sits highlighting numbers on a Charles Schwab letterhead. So it wasn't Goldman Sachs, but this was California, not Manhattan. Charles would have to do. Young-ish, if you count early 40s as youthful.
Charles Schwab looks up and smiles vaguely at me as I plunk into the seat across from him and toss my umbrella on the floor.
“Cute shoes,” he mumbles, before returning to his highlighting.
“Thanks,” I say, grinning.
Gay as a picnic basket. Should have guessed: his suit was too immaculate, his skin too pampered. The Bay Area rushes past the train window we sit next to. With nothing left to worry about except getting to San Francisco relatively soon, I sip my coffee and get lost in thoughts of Walker & Runton, the ad firm where I started at two years ago.
Nick had been my biggest cheerleader in my getting the job and it was every marketing major's dream, really, to be an associate copywriter at such a high-powered ad firm in one of the top markets in the nation. I wasn't sure how many people I beat out for the gig, and though it wasn't as glamorous once you saw things from the inside, I was eager for more. I loved Walker & Runton, and I was ready to move up. It had been a year since I'd gotten a raise, so last night I laid out my best give-me-a-promotion outfit in anticipation of what was coming up in mere hours. Today I was going to ask for the title of lead copywriter in the creative department. Ambitious? Yes. But I'm a firm believer in asking for things you want. Especially since what I wanted, post-breakup with Nick, was to afford to move to San Francisco and not deal with this commute I'd taken on for him and his local job.
Now that Angelica-whatever-her-name-is (more appropriately known as “The Witch” on our office floor) left on maternity leave and, thankfully, never subsequently returned since her hedge fund manager of a husband made five times whatever Angelica made, the spot has remain unfilled. Which I'm happy about not only for my career, but also because my coworkers and I could only take so much cattiness before we were ready to bind her little Chanel-glossed pout with duct tape and throw her in the office supply closet.
At the moment there's a hiring freeze on at Walker & Runton because of cuts and slashed budgets thanks to the economic deathwatch that's trumpeted across headlines and news stations daily. Since the freeze, no one has been brought in to claim Angelica's title.
And I want it. Badly.